I tried the Vertefarm Vertical Hydroponic Indoor Garden


By Lars Hundley

Recently, the folks over at Vertefarm sent me one of their newly launched indoor home vertical hydroponic gardens at their expense for me to try and out review for Gardening Channel readers. I’ve been using it for just more than a month now and I’m already getting harvests of leafy greens. It’s working great!

What is the Vertefarm Garden?

The Vertefarm Hydroponic Home Garden is a sleek, self-contained unit designed to let you grow greens right in your home. Whether you’re an urban apartment-dweller or just want the convenience of a year-round indoor garden, this setup aims to make it simple.

At about 5 and half feet tall and just over a foot deep, the Vertefarm doesn’t take up a lot of floor space. But with a vertical growing area and 48 plant pots, you can grow a substantial amount of fresh produce in that small footprint. The Garden relies on a hydroponic system, so there’s no messy soil – the roots of the plants are suspended in a nutrient solution. Water and light are automated, so it’s a pretty hands-off experience.

The water tank holds about 10 gallons, and the company says their UV light purification system keeps the water clean and bacteria-free for months. Overhead LED grow lights provide the full spectrum of light plants need, and are optimized to support efficient growth.

The Hydroponic Garden is a “smart” device, with WiFi connectivity and a mobile app that lets you control the system and monitor your plants. There’s a microcontroller unit inside running the show, communicating with your phone over Bluetooth or your home WiFi.

Vertefarm pitches this as a way to have a steady supply of uber-fresh, nutrient-dense produce, with the added benefit of purifying your indoor air. They claim it can save the equivalent of 20 square meters of outdoor garden space. Of course, it’s also an attractive home furnishing, with the plants themselves providing a lush visual element.

Assembling the Vertefarm

The Vertefarm came in two large boxes, and then a third small box with the starter plants and nutrients arrived the next day. I was surprised that the starter plants just came packed in a small cardboard box, but were still perfectly healthy inside the box. I guess it’s common to ship live plants this way, but it was nice to know that even leafy green starters can make the journey.

A small cardboard box contained the 48 small starter greens, instructions, and the nutrients that you add to the water reservoir.

It took about 45 minutes to fully assemble the Vertefarm, put all the starter plants in place, add water and get the whole thing up and running.

First Day

Here’s what the Vertefarm looks like when you first set it up with the starter plants. This is the very first day, and you can see that the starter plants are still quite small and have lots of room to grow.

The grow lights that hang from arms that go out in front of the device swivel freely, so you can move and point them where you’d like the light to shine the brightest. I mostly used mine with the lights angled a little bit on the outside, shining inwards, and that has done a good job with all my lettuce.

Light Schedule

The Vertefarm comes with a pretty rudimentary app which gives you the ability to schedule when the lights turn on and off. I kept it with the default settings of turning on at 8 a.m. each morning and turning off at 9 p.m. That has been a very successful setup for me, because the lettuce has been thriving.

Water for the Vertefarm

The bottom part of the Vertefarm has two covered openings. One of the openings allows you to add water, and the other is where you can store things like your instruction manual and the hydroponic nutrients that you periodically add to the water reservoir, and the second opening is to the reservoir itself.

One great feature is the little floating plastic stick that tells you if you have enough water in the reservoir or if you need to add more. The reservoir holds 10 liters of water, which is somewhere around six gallons. When there’s enough water in the tank, you’ll see the bottom part of the measuring stick shows a green color, telling you that everything is good. As the water starts to run down, you’ll no longer see the green color and you know that you need to add water right to the device.

This is extremely handy, because otherwise it would be easy for someone like me to forget to check.

I add about a liter of water every few days, which seems to keep up with the evaporation and plant usage of my lettuce. I haven’t paid close attention to exactly how much or how often because I typically just add either one or two liters if I see the green go away.

Adding Hydroponic Nutrients to the Water

Plants grown hydroponically need nutrients in the water, and Vertefarm provides three sets of nutrients, along with bottles to dissolve them, measure them and add them to the reservoir. You can buy replacement nutrients from Vertefarm when you run out. Similarly, you can buy replacement starter lettuce when your first round of starter plants stop producing.

What Kind of Lettuce?

The Vertefarm lettuce starters are a non-GMO mix of multi-leaf lettuce (Lactuca sativa). They specifically chose this mix for ease of hydroponic growing, pest and disease resistance, and flavor. They are planning to add other varieties of non-GMO leavy greens over time, such as kale, arugula and mustard greens.

If you are an experienced hydroponic gardener, the planting pots that Vertefarm uses are non proprietary, so you could theoretically grow your own seedlings and grow them with this device. As a beginner to hydroponics, I’ll be sticking with using their plants for now.

Day 12

By the 12th day, you can see that the lettuce has grown in quite nicely. In fact, I got out some scissors and harvested a small amount to see how that part worked. I ended up buying some Fiskars Micro-Tip Pruning Snips, which work perfectly for harvesting.

Here’s a photo of my test run of harvesting some lettuce after the first 12 days. (Some of the leaves went directly into my mouth, so they aren’t shown here. Ha ha.)

Day 16

After 16 days, I might have waited a couple of days too long to start harvesting. I had been out of town for a week and it had really grown by the time I got back! I used my Fiskars snips and got a giant family-sized bowl of lettuce, which my wife and I enjoyed for dinner over a couple of days.

The folks at Vertefarm told me that one method you could also use with the device is to just grow just one or two rows of lettuce at a time and leave the rest of the garden empty. You can grow them until you have entire finished heads of lettuce and then snip off the entire six or 12 heads of lettuce at once. It’s really just a matter of using your imagination of how it might best work for you.

We eat salads daily with dinner, so we have started harvesting every few days. In the photo above, you can see what the lettuce looks like after I’ve trimmed it a few times. You can see where I’ve trimmed and how it’s growing back. Vertefarm says you should get around six week’s worth of harvesting out of a typical crop of starter plants before you start again with a new round of plants.

When I initially set up the Vertefarm, I accidentally injured one of the starter plants and knocked the leaves completely free of the roots. I carefully reattached part of the leaves that I didn’t break and you can see here that they eventually started to grow again and should be full sized in another couple of weeks.

There are rollers with a lever that holds them in place when you get the Vertefarm positioned where you want it.

Advantages of the Vertefarm

I’ve always been interested in growing plants hydroponically, but never pursued it in the past because it seemed too complex and expensive. It seemed like the kind of hobby that’s really for engineers, because you have to plan and build a hydroponic system and then understand it well enough to maintain it.

The Vertefarm might initially sound a little expensive at $799, but you get a device that looks nice enough that you aren’t ashamed to have it in your house where people can see it. It already has the correct lighting built in at the correct distances. It has a functioning water circulation system. You can control it with a phone app. And it has clear instructions that apply exactly to that unit, instead of just general hydroponic guidelines that you have to figure out how to apply to your specific situation.

Basically, it removes the learning curve portion of hydroponic growing and makes it something that a non-engineer and non-tinkerer can do, and looks attractive.

If you are a tinkerer or you’re already a hydroponic growing pro, then the non-proprietary growing baskets and easy to control app will allow you to grow other seedlings with it and adjust the light timing to your own specifications. They even publish a DIY seedling guide to help you use it that way. That seems like the best of both worlds to me.

Another thing that the manufacturer pointed out to me was the fact that they use a UV sterilization system inside the device to keep the water clear from bacteria and algae. Although this is common with fish tanks, it’s not yet common to have it designed into a hydroponic system. That’s especially important for people like me who are looking for a system that is simple to operate and maintain.

All hydroponic systems get dirty over time from running water through plant roots. Fortunately, the Vertefarm also makes it easy to completely clean out their reservoir. The same pump that circulates the water to the plants can also be used to empty the reservoir so you can replace it with fresh water. You just push a button on the back of the unit and you can empty the tank into a bucket or down a drain. I haven’t needed to do that yet, and I’m glad they designed it in a way that it will be easy for me when it’s time.

I think the only downside I can think of with the Vertefarm is that it occasionally makes a whooshing water noise as the device periodically circulates water to the lettuce. At first I thought it was a little noisy, but it only lasts for around 10 seconds when it goes off, and I quickly grew accustomed to the sound. This would apply to all hydroponic systems and not just the Vertefarm though, because it’s necessary to circulate the water.

Overall, I am totally impressed with how easy it was to assemble the Vertefarm, and how growing with it was dead simple and successful at growing lettuce. It will be especially terrific in the winter! I look forward to when they add additional starter plants to their store so I can expand to a bigger variety of hydroponic growing options.

The post I tried the Vertefarm Vertical Hydroponic Indoor Garden appeared first on Gardening Channel.

Carts

Accessories

Flower Seeds

Composting

Choosing the right fruit trees for your climate
How to harvest herbs: How and when to harvest homegrown herbs
what weed is it? putting names to pesky plants
Georgia’s Farming and Gardening Sector: Top 10 Easiest Veggies to Grow [Infographic]
15 Garden Trends To Avoid in 2024: Experts Warn Against These Outdated Designs
How To Overwinter Ollas For Years Of Use: Get More From Irrigation Pots
How To Grow An Indoor Lemon Tree
No-Till Cover Crops: How To Grow Healthier Soil Over Winter
Win a Bonne Maman Lemon Crème prize bundle, worth £100
How to grow cosmos
How to grow and care for watermelon plants
How to grow a bacopa plant
I tried the Vertefarm Vertical Hydroponic Indoor Garden
Preparing Your Yard for Spring: Tips for Safe and Efficient Lawn Equipment Use
Quick Tip: Save Your Seeds
Quick Tip: Plant Where You Can Easily Water
Top 6 Struggles of Growing Herbs Indoors (w/ solutions)!!!??? // Garden Answer
Top 5 Beginner Tips For Apartment Gardeners Aja Dang Epic
How To Grow Tomatoes Indoors
How To Care For Indoor Plants + GREENIFY YOUR SPACE
How to Grow Vegetable Seedlings
Try it now | How to grow Bean Sprouts in the fastest and easiest
Try it now | How to grow Bean Sprouts in the fastest and easiest
Biggest & Thickest Buds on Cannabis using This Organic Hardener & Sugars
Biggest & Thickest Buds on Cannabis using This Organic Hardener & Sugars
MY SECRETS TO BIG MONEY PLANT (POTHOS) | MONEY PLANT CARE TIPS - COMPLETE GUIDE
MY SECRETS TO BIG MONEY PLANT (POTHOS) | MONEY PLANT CARE TIPS – COMPLETE GUIDE